President Bush is planning to deploy thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexican border to help keep out undocumented immigrants. Bush is expected to make the announcement tonight during a rare prime-time address from the Oval Office. On Sunday Mexican President Vicente Fox called Bush to express concern over what he called the militarization of the border. White House officials have said the deployment is a temporary measure to give the government time to hire private contractors to support Border Patrol.
In Haiti, Rene Preval has been sworn in as the country’s first democratically elected president since the U.S.-backed coup ousted Jean Bertrand Aristide in 2004. At his inauguration ceremony, Preval urged Haitians to work together to build a more stable nation.
Rene Preval previously served as Haiti’s president from 1996 to 2001. He also served as prime minister in Aristide’s first administration.
The charity group Christian Aid is warning that global warming could have a devastating effect on the continent of Africa. A new report by the group estimates 184 million people could die in Africa this century as a result of climate-induced floods, famine, drought and conflict. The group said “Poor people will take the brunt, so we are calling on rich countries to help them adjust as the seas rise, the deserts expand, and floods and hurricanes become more frequent and intense.”
The Justice Department has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit against AT&T over the company’s role in the National Security Agency’s warrant-less domestic surveillance program. In court papers, federal officials argued that whether the operations were legal or not, the program involved secrets too sensitive for public discussion.
Meanwhile the telecom giant Verizon has been sued for giving the NSA the phone records of millions of Americans. The lawsuit was filed on Saturday just days after USA Today reported Verizon, Bell South and AT&T handed over millions of phone call records to help the government build the world’s largest database, The 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act made it illegal for telephone companies and computer service providers to give the government records showing who their customers had dialed or e-mailed. Attorneys say that under the 1986 law the telecoms could be forced to pay out one thousand dollars per violation per customer.
Meanwhile U.S. spy operations are also making headlines in Europe. A Swedish newspaper is reporting that a new European Union law may allow the U.S. government to access information on phone calls, text messages and emails sent by EU citizens. The new law — which goes into effect next year — requires European telephone operators and internet service providers to store information on who called whom and who emailed whom for at least six months.
In Iraq, a U.S. military helicopter was shot down on Sunday just south of Baghdad. Two soldiers died.
Meanwhile a series of bombings across Iraq killed at least 47 people on Sunday. Among the targets were six Shiite shrines in the city of Baquoba.
In other news from Iraq, the Hartford Courant reports the U.S. military has routinely deployed soldiers with known mental problems to fight in Iraq. The paper said a record 22 U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year. In several cases soldiers remained on active duty even after they attempted suicide.
In Washington, peace campaigner Cindy Sheehan spent Mothers Day in an anti-war vigil outside the White House along with actress Susan Sarandon, other military mothers and Iraq war veterans.
On Friday, federal agents raided the home and office of Dusty Foggo, who up until last week was the third highest-ranking official at the CIA. The raids came a week after CIA Director Porter Goss unexpectedly resigned. It was Goss who promoted Foggo to become the CIA’s executive director two years ago. Foggo is suspected of being part of a congressional bribery scandal that also involved jailed Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham and the defense contractor Brent Wilkes. Foggo and Wilkes have been close friends for decades. According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Wilkes received many secret “black budget” contracts from the CIA that are hidden from public scrutiny. Wilkes has also been accused of providing prostitutes at the Watergate and Westin hotels in Washington to lawmakers in an effort to win contracts.
In Europe, a group of Latin American leaders met with their European counterparts at a summit this weekend in Vienna. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he wants to offer low-income Europeans discounted heating oil next winter. Chavez also predicted the end of what he described as the American empire.
The summit in Vienna was later disrupted by a Greenpeace activist from Argentina who pushed her way into a photo shoot of the world leaders. The woman, who was wearing a bikini, carried a sign protesting the construction of a pulp mill on the Argentine-Uruguayan border.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is accusing the Bush administration of ignoring requests from the organization to have access to detainees being held in secret U.S. jails around the world. The U.S. has disappeared an unknown number of people captured in the so-called war on terror. The government refuses to reveal where they are held or to allow anyone — including attorneys — to see them.
> In the West Bank town of Jenin, thousands of Palestinians gathered today for the funeral of seven Palestinians killed by Israeli forces on Sunday. Among the dead was a leading militant from the group Islamic Jihad who was accused of being connected to last month’s suicide bombing in Tel Aviv that killed 11 people. Meanwhile Israel’s high court has upheld a controversial law that can block Palestinians residents of the West Bank or Gaza Strip from moving to Israel in order to live with their spouse — even if their spouse has Israeli citizenship.
In Brazil, more than 50 people, including dozens of police officers, have died after one of the country’s largest gangs launched a series of attacks targeting police stations, military facilities and prison outposts. The uprising began on Thursday after the Brazilian government announced the transfer of several imprisoned gang leaders. Rebellions were also reported in 40 prisons. Police said prisoners were holding about 230 prison guards hostage.
In news from Washington — First Lady Laura Bush said Sunday she doesn’t believe the public opinion polls that show her husband is one of the least popular presidents of the past 50 years. On Friday a Harris Poll put the President’s approval rating at a new low of 29 percent. Laura Bush told Fox News “I don’t really believe those polls… As I travel around the United States, I see a lot of appreciation for him. A lot of people come up to me and say, 'Stay the course'.”
In New York, a popular disc jockey working for Clear Channel has been arrested on charges of endangering the welfare of a child. The DJ, known as Star, threatened on-air to sexually abuse the four-year-old daughter of a rival radio personality. He also offered listeners $500 for information on where the four-year-old went to school. In addition he made anti-Asian slurs about the girl’s mother. Up until last week Star co-hosted the popular syndicated morning show “Star & Buc Wild.” Clear Channel fired him on Wednesday but only after a member of the New York City council took issue with the broadcast.
In Southern Utah, scores of protesters gathered Saturday to protest the government’s plan to set off 700-tons of explosives next month in the Nevada Test Site. The explosion will be 50 times more powerful than the Army’s largest conventional bomb. Although the test — known as the Divine Strake — will use conventional explosives, it is being conducted in order to better understand nuclear bunker buster bombs. According to government documents, the test is needed to determine the “proper nuclear yield necessary to destroy underground facilities.” The Pentagon estimates the blast will be so large that it will create a 10,000 foot-high mushroom cloud. Critics fear the dust could spread radioactive particles from old nuclear tests.
In education news, an adjunct professor at Boston College has resigned to protest the school’s decision to award Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice an honorary degree. In a letter to the school’s president, professor Steve Almond said Rice has quote “lied to the American people knowingly, repeatedly… in an effort to justify a pathologically misguided foreign policy.”
And senior Army officials are withdrawing their support for a new HBO documentary filmed inside an Army combat hospital in Baghdad. The Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey and other senior Army officials were originally planning to attend a screening tonight of the film Baghdad ER. But they have decided that the film’s graphic footage might demoralize soldiers and negatively affect public opinion about the war. Last week the Army’s chief surgeon issued a memo warning medical staff at Army posts across the country to prepare for a possible influx of soldiers and families seeking comfort and counseling after watching the documentary. This is an excerpt of Baghdad ER. A warning for our television audience: this footage may disturb some viewers. Baghdad ER was produced by Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill of Downtown Community Television in New York. The documentary will air on HBO on Sunday.